The world’s main oil depot becomes a large-network battery

The world’s main oil depot becomes a large-network battery

BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc are not the only ones who need to prepare for a world hungry for less oil and gas.

Royal Vopak NV, the largest independent oil storage company, joins the launch of the Elestor BV battery to develop a battery that can be one of the cheapest ways to store large amounts of electricity. It is a role that is now dominated by hydrocarbons, which must be changed if the world is to reduce emissions.

“The development of large-scale and low-cost electricity storage will become increasingly important,” said Marcel van de Kar, CEO of Vopak’s New Energy. “With this promising technology from Elestor, electricity can be stored in large-scale molecules.”

The rest of the oil industry – beyond head-to-head supermarkets – is a sign that they are planning an Existential Threat posed by a greener future. The BNEF expects oil demand to peak in 2035, which is to prepare a world that is less used by all people from extraction to storage companies.

Elestor’s batteries use both hydrogen and dissolved bromine deposits to store energy, both of which are cheap and plentiful compared to the rare metals in lithium-ion cells. As it is a flow battery, its capacity can be increased by increasing the size of the vessels, making it ideal for mass storage of electricity.

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This could be key to shifting to the renewable energies needed to meet the Paris Climate goals. The energy company Wartsila Oyj has estimated that it needs a 2,594 gigawatt battery to balance in G-20 countries, where wind and solar work intermittently. That’s five times more than today’s nuclear capacity around the world. It is another option to provide a basic load supply.

Although Elestor’s batteries are still small, the joint venture plans to raise them to 3,000 kilowatt-hours – enough to power about 30 homes a day – before they grow any further.

The network battery space is dominated by lithium-ion cells, thanks to the existing industry that builds and maintains them. Other competitors include vanadium-emitting batteries, recently selected by California to help stabilize grids, as well as stationary zinc-based batteries developed by Eos Energy Enterprises Inc. Last year this company went public through a company to buy a special purpose.


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